Returning to Sport following the Lockdown is your sport #Safe2play?

Returning to Sport following the Lockdown is your sport #Safe2play.

For the last couple of years, I have written a blog aimed at parents as the Whitsun and summer holidays are in sight and parents are struggling again with trying to balance work, home life and keeping children entertained. This year, however, with the return to sport following the long-enforced lockdown we need to be extra vigilant about how our children return to sport but also those other activities such as dance and drama and do not forget those children who go to Scout groups and Brownie packs.

Research from the first lockdown had indicated the stress and anxiety that many children and adults were experiencing, rises in domestic abuse, peer on peer abuse, child to parent’s abuse, online grooming, and abuse all increased significantly, and that trend has sadly continued throughout the year and increased during the third lockdown, we are all a bit lockdown weary and fatigued.

So, this week the relaxation of the current restrictions is most welcome, whilst the Government and the Health agencies focus on keeping the infection rates and the “R” number down, we are concerned about the potential for abuse to occur outside of the family home as children once again flock to their chosen physical activities, but parents you must be aware of your responsibilities to ensure that the sport or other chosen activity which your children attend is Safe to Play.

To help parents and sports clubs navigate the return to activity safely we have produced a briefing paper that highlights some key messages and themes that all involved need to consider before you let your most cherished possession, your children, attend.

Contact with your child’s activity provider is essential, it is good to talk to the coach, tutor, or provider to give them an update on how your children have coped or in many cases not coped, your children need to know who they will be meeting and coached by as some staff may have left the clubs during the year. Helping to reduce any potential anxiety will lead to an improved activity experience.

Sports clubs and other activity providers must also be prepared for the return of children, expectations should be lowered as many children may be anxious about their performance levels compared to pre-pandemic levels, they must also be planning for the potential of disclosures from children about issues that may have occurred in the home or online and be prepared to take the appropriate actions and are those delivering activities prepared themselves for their own return to their coaching and teaching roles.

The pandemic has had a negative effect on us adults as well and yet we may not be aware of our own anxieties, so as we always advise parents to do their due diligence before they let their children attend clubs, the same applies for those running activities to check in on their staff and themselves, who supports the coaches that children disclose to?

Please see the link below to the briefing paper as well as new sports resources that we have recently developed which include Athletics, Badminton, Boxing, Cycling and Rugby.

As always, the Safeguarding in Sport team is happy to talk to any of you about any matter related to sport or any form of child exploitation, we would also like to see any examples of where our sports resources have been used in your sporting environment so, please send us your photos and we will share them across our social media network, let us see some examples of sport creating safer spaces for our children and let us make sport and your child’s chosen activity #Safe2play

The Safeguarding in Sport Team

Kev Murphy and Bina Parmar